Washington Aerospace Club
National Association of Rocketry Section 578
Tripoli Rocketry Association Prefecture 41

3/6/10 Meeting Minutes

The meeting began at 7:10PM on March 6th, 2010 at the Microsoft Campus Building 41 Conference Room.

FITS Update

Dave Randall and Brad Wright gave an update on their work as the co-launch directors for FITS.

Brad indicated that the FITS website should be completely updated sometime next week. Attempts are being made at improving both the layout of and access to the website.

The special edition FITS 2010 rocket kits from Mike Fisher at Binder Design are in the final stages of planning and kitting. These will be made with special FITS 2010 decals. Current plans call for a 38mm motor mount and an option for dual deployment. Kent Newman brought up the question of incorporating a 54mm motor mount instead of the 38mm in order to provide fliers with more motor possibilities. Mike's original idea behind this kit was to have a good vehicle for Level 1 certification attempts. Brad and Dave will look into the 54mm motor mount option with Mike. Kits should be available from Binder Design in the next few weeks and a limited number will be available through Bob at Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory at FITS.

There was some discussion about trying to organize a FITS 2010 rocket drag race. Plans are in the works for an Estes Der Red Max drag race, but if there is interest, the "big boys" may be able to participate in a drag race with the new binder kits. More details to follow.

Brad and Dave have been working on creating a better site layout for FITS attendees. All the FITS vendors were sent a letter asking them to choose between two sites; one on the west side of the main dirt road (closer to the flightline) and the other on the knoll on the northeast side of the camp. So far, only Sunriver and TLA (Tragic Little Aerospace) have responded. If all vendors choose to be in the same location, the other location will be opened up for additional tent camping.

Mike Wyvel gave an update on FITS 2010 shirts. It currently looks like there will be three options available: a short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve t-shirt, and long sleeve denim button-down shirt. The T-shirts will be the same material as last year. Currently, the denim shirts are to be ordered in blue only. Angela "Red" Wright suggested black denim either instead of or in addition to the blue. There was some interest in that from other members as well. Mike will look into that. All shirts will have an embroidered NASA-inspired logo. Finish work is still being done on the logo design. Currently, retail prices are coming in at somewhere between 20 and 30 dollars for the shirts. Hats will be available again this year as well.

In addition to shirts and hats, a FITS 2010 sticker is in the works and will likely sell for a dollar or two. Mike is also working on a NASA-style "mission patch" for this year's launch.

Launch Directors for March and April Mansfield Launches

Kent Newman called for volunteers as Launch Directors for the March 27-28 and April 24-25 launches scheduled for Mansfield. The March launch location is still to be decided between the Snell Ranch and the Sportsman's Club. The April launch is scheduled for the Sportsman's Club. Kent volunteered to be launch director for the April launch. Carl Hamilton arrived late to the meeting (see report below), so he was nominated as the launch director for the March launch and graciously accepted the appointment. The nesting bird season remains an issue at the Snell Ranch and it is unclear as to when that site will be available for launches.

Western Washington Launch Site Search

The search for a launch site in Western Washington was again discussed. Andrew McMillan and Bill Munds presented some information regarding potential launch sites in the Mount Vernon area northward at last month's meeting. Kent expressed concern that the members of the BOD have limited time to pursue this endeavor and suggested that interested members who live closer to the north side research potential sites and perhaps even make initial contact with landowners to help secure a site. The general consensus was that the site would have to support a waiver of at least 5,000 feet. If no further progress can be made on this in the near future, the issue may need to be tabled until next fall.

Brad Wright questioned the actual need for a new site well north of the Seattle area. A site farther north would be only minimally closer to the Puyallup area than Mansfield is. Currently, launches at the 60 Acres site are well attended and flights to about 2,000 feet are possible when the wind is low. Dave Randall indicated that the Youth Soccer Association has the fields booked every weekend from June through September. The south field at 60 Acres remains closed and is a posted no trespassing area. Citations are being written for violators.

One of the RC fliers at 60 Acres mentioned the possibility of a field in the Kirkland area, but it is apparently the site of an old landfill and there are methane gas vents throughout the field. It was the general consensus that this was not desirable for a potential rocket launch, so that site is a no-go.

Altimeter Talk

Bryan Whitemarsh gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding commonly available altimeters, including models from PerfectFlite, G-Wiz, Missile Works, and the new MARSA4 and Featherweight Raven. Both of the new models have a range of progressive features, including full flight simulation ground testing. The MARSA4 has an onboard LCD screen and can be fully field programmed. One of the new features of the MARSA4 is an internet connection that will allow automatic firmware updates and diagnostics. This should help to remedy problems with the altimeter before they cause issues in actual flights. A simple spreadsheet comparing some of the major features of the 8 altimeters discussed as well as the entire PowerPoint presentation are posted online. (Thanks, Andrew).

Ingraham High School's SLI Project

Carl Hamilton came directly to the meeting from Mansfield, where the Ingraham High School's Student Launch Initiative team held a Flight Readiness launch of their project vehicle. Ingraham was chosen to participate in the SLI program because of their excellent performance in last year's Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) contest. They are now official NASA contractors and will be studying gyroscopic stabilization. They needed a launch to prove flight readiness by next Wednesday, so Carl as their NAR advisor called in a special waiver for Mansfield for this launch. The students did not have their shear pins and instead of electing to use some that Carl had in his range box, they launched with friction fitting only. The boost was good to over 5700 feet, but the apogee charge dislodged the nosecone, causing the main to partially deploy at apogee. The recovery harness for the drogue chute fouled the main chute, keeping it from deploying. The entire rocket came down under drogue chute only. There was no external damage to the vehicle, but the AV bay was slightly damaged on impact. The students will work on some redesigns and plan to launch the rocket again at the March launch. Thanks go to Carl for volunteering his time to this worthy cause.

Avionics Bay Discussion

The scheduled discussion regarding AV bay design and construction was postponed until next month to allow more people the opportunity for "hands-on" evaluation of individual designs. There was a brief discussion regarding "zipperless" designs and Scott Berfield demonstrated the design of the fin can of his beautiful 75mm minimum diameter rocket.

BALLS 18 Video

Clips from the BALLS 18 DVD from the October, 2009 launch at Blackrock Desert, Nevada were shown. Kent Newman plays a starring role in the video that features some rather disappointing flights from the Northwest contingent. Shreds and catos were the order of the weekend. Some nice video of the P-motor-powered "Planck's Constant," which suffered a forward closure blow-by at about 5,000 feet was shown. The "Starsky and Hutch" two-stage unstable flight resulting in impacting the playa under full O-motor power was met with a chorus of oohs, ahhs, and groans. Red Wright's "Rorschach" had a great boost on L-power, but came in ballistic due to deployment failure and was utterly destroyed. Brad Wright's "Panther Paws" had a great flight on an N-impulse "Purple Helmet" motor, reaching 15,000+ feet.


Robert Simpson-Clark showed off his newest AV-bay masterpiece containing a GPS tracker from Tragic Little Aerospace. He currently has the receiver unit running through an inexpensive netbook. The unit generates copious amounts of tracking data. TLA is currently working on the ability to transmit to a handheld GPS receiver.

The meeting adjourned at about 9:30PM.

Please note that the Peace Lutheran Church will not be available on the first Saturday of April (April 3). Please check your e-mail for updates regarding the April meeting.


Alex Tsai
Angela "Red" Wright
Bill Wyvel
Brad McClure
Brad Wright
Bryan Whitemarsh
Bryan Young
Carl Hamilton
Chris Kamila
Dale Woodford
Dave Randall
David Walp
Denny Smith
Dietrich Podmajersky
Dustin Knie
Ian Walp
Ken Tsai
Kent Newman
Michael Dennis
Michael Garvais
Mike Wyvel
Robert Geer
Robert Simpson-Clark
Scott Berfield
Scott Stabbert

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